For the first time, Saatchi Gallery will participate in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, featuring new works by British contemporary artist Dan Rawlings. The installation coincides with the return of the RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show 2021 exhibited at Saatchi Gallery from September 18 through to October 3, 2021.
The installation features never-before-seen artworks including, ‘Delays Expected’ (2021), a steel forest shell hand cut into the walls of a repurposed transit van. The works aim to spark a dialogue about our interaction with nature and our dependency on industry. Set at the heart of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the steel structures demonstrate Rawlings’ fascination with the resilience of nature with the ‘deserted’ vehicle swamped and almost overcome by the plants and foliage of the surrounding garden.
Rawlings’ intricate hand cut process is created using a plasma cutter, a handheld torch that combines electricity and compressed air to cut through metal. Finer details are added with a variety of other specialised tools, guided by Rawlings’ preparatory painted sketches. The vehicle’s structure will be illuminated using hidden LED lights, and will be lit deliberately at random – as if left wild, and free of human control. The garden will also be surrounded by reshaped traffic lights and roadworks signage resembling Rawlings’ steel cut foliage motif.
Dan Rawlings reflects on the concept behind the work: “We hear the phrases ‘net zero’ and ’emissions targets’ daily, and it’s easy to tell ourselves that our problems are being dealt with, that we are on a smooth road out of environmental catastrophe. We can be diligent with our recycling, carbon offsets and reusable shopping bags, but these efforts are not enough, and the reality is that we are patching a potholed road. Traffic lights and roadworks interrupt the flower show, and weeds interrupt the roadworks. The installation is a utopian Atlantis – the spectre of a world that could be free.”
Saatchi Gallery’s Partnerships Director, Laura Uccello: “We are delighted to participate in this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and share Dan Rawlings’ timely installation with the show’s visitors. We believe the show is a unique platform for contemporary art to reach new audiences and our hope is that the work will prompt a conversation about our relationship with the environment.”
This installation will be on view at stand number RHW281, located on the major show thoroughfare Royal Hospital Way.